Mechanical Music Digest  Archives
You Are Not Logged In Login/Get New Account
Please Log In. Accounts are free!
Logged In users are granted additional features including a more current version of the Archives and a simplified process for submitting articles.
Home Archives Calendar Gallery Store Links Info
MMD > Archives > March 2009 > 2009.03.30 > 03Prev  Next

Early Audio Recordings of Street Organs
By Erik York

Hello All,  Roger Wiegand's post of "Pedro the Hand Organ Man" on
Edison Cylinder was unusual and quite interesting to me.  I have never
heard until now such a gradual fade-out effect quite like this one in
any other cylinder.  Besides the sounds effects, even the monkey organ
sounds as if it is fading into the distance.

From a technical standpoint, how did they achieve this over 100 years
ago?  I very much doubt the scene was recorded outdoors, because the
audio is quite clear and doesn't contain extraneous background or crowd
noise.  Now, today in the digital age, a fade-out is as simple as
applying a filter effect over an audio track.

From the amount of archived recordings these street scenes sold well.
There is another interesting "street scene" recording of a street piano
medley located at the cylinder recordings web site on the
real audio format: 

There is some controversy over this recording whether there were
several stationed pianos queued to play with single tunes or a single
piano with multiple tunes.  To my untrained ear the cylinder sounds
like it could be a very forcefully played (and out of tune) player
piano performing a single roll.  What would classify an instrument as
"street piano"?  Would this at the time be considered a barrel piano
or could it be something else entirely?

In the recent recordings I have heard of barrel pianos, the instruments
sound far less precise tonally and mechanically than the above cylinder
recording.  If the street piano recording is indeed of a player piano
then who produced the roll?  Many unsolved mysteries to this one which
may likely never be answered.

Lastly, can someone point me to some good literature (preferably
on-line) on what types of mechanical instruments were used historically
in street performances?

Erik York
Newberg, Oregon

(Message sent Mon 30 Mar 2009, 09:45:25 GMT, from time zone GMT-0700.)

Key Words in Subject:  Audio, Early, Organs, Recordings, Street

Home    Archives    Calendar    Gallery    Store    Links    Info   

Enter text below to search the MMD Website with Google

CONTACT FORM: Click HERE to write to the editor, or to post a message about Mechanical Musical Instruments to the MMD

Unless otherwise noted, all opinions are those of the individual authors and may not represent those of the editors. Compilation copyright 1995-2019 by Jody Kravitz.

Please read our Republication Policy before copying information from or creating links to this web site.

Click HERE to contact the webmaster regarding problems with the website.

Please support publication of the MMD by donating online

Pay via PayPal

No PayPal account required

Translate This Page

. .